¡Vivan Las Antipodas!
Director(s): Victor Kossakovsky
Fest Year: 2012
In Person: director Victor Kossakovsky
As if Wallace Stevens and James Thurber kidnapped a David Attenborough film crew. Victor Kossakovsky’s thrillingly idiosyncratic yet substantial doc journeys to four sets of the Earth’s antipodes—the places you’d end up if you drilled directly through the planet to the other side. Kossakovsky’s cinematographic tricks (he loves twisting and floating us upside down, like thrill riders at the state fair) don’t distract from the film’s deepest pleasures: his remarkable cast of characters. They include two bridge-keepers at an abandoned village in Argentina; the minder at a Botswana kiosk; a dour-faced brigade of bicyclists braving a Chinese monsoon; freshly spewed burbling, glowing lava; and a Russian shepherd who greets hundreds of sheep by name each morning. Most “Earth docs” offer either spine-tingling sensation or dire warnings of catastrophe. Kossakovsky counters with a playful, empathetic, and endlessly creative vision of our planet. It’s only slightly more gorgeous than the one outside our doors. Presented with the Museum of Modern Art (JS)